Rachele Brooke Smith in Center Stage: Turn It Up (2008)

Flash the Teeth Dance

I haven't watched "Center Stage" yet but you don't need to if you want to watch "Center Stage: Turn It Up" because it is a stand alone story, a stand alone cliche story at that. You see "Center Stage: Turn It Up" is really just a re-imagining of "Flashdance" as we have the self taught dancer, the disappointment of rejection, romance, dancing at a club and of course the chance to prove you can do it if you really believe. It's not a terrible movie just an incredibly cliche one which often has a lot of cheese in it but if all you want is nice looking stars, music with a good beat and a lot of dancing this will be right up your street, that is if you can get beyond Rachele Brooke Smith's dazzling smile which dominates the movie as much as the dancing.

Having taught herself to dance by watching recordings of ballet, Kate Parker (Rachele Brooke Smith) leaves Detroit with a belief she will pass the audition for the American Ballet Academy. Unfortunately whilst one teacher loves her fire and passion she fails to get in loosing out to Suzanne Von Stroh (Sarah Jayne Jensen) who comes from a wealthy and influential family. With her car towed away and no money Kate finds work waitressing and dancing at a club where she helps academy dancer Tommy (Kenny Wormald) to find the passion in his dance as well as bed as they end up in a relationship. But things never run smoothly and having dealt with rejection once fears it again when she thinks about going to the open auditions for the coveted lead role in "The Glass Slipper".

Kenny Wormald and Rachele Brooke Smith in Center Stage: Turn It Up (2008)

I am sure that even if you have never seen "Flashdance" the cliches which combine to create "Center Stage: Turn It Up" will be familiar as it is a movie which is built up from very familiar blocks. As such it plays out in a predictable and less than believable manner as Kate makes a life for herself, finds love, feels betrayed and is about to give up on her dream yadaa yadaa yadaa. And so when we finally weave are way to the ending nothing really major has happened, Kate and Tommy have had trust issues, rival dancer Suzanne Von Stroh has thrown some bitchy looks at her and so on. But in a strange way it still works, it makes it brainless cinema where you just watch what happens rather than really concentrating on it.

The thing is that when it comes to the music and dance "Center Stage: Turn It Up" works, it is nothing knew but with a good beat and some energetic fusion of street and ballet it grabs your attention but when that isn't the focus it struggles. The struggle comes from the fact that the cast and especially Rachele Brooke Smith and Kenny Wormald struggle when it comes to the acting. Oh they are appealing to look at even if Smith's dazzling smile dominates things and they both are impressive when it comes to dancing but when it comes to delivering character and emotion it is stilted. Thankfully "Center Stage: Turn It Up" is dominated by dance and so it doesn't fall flat too many times as the energy carries it.

What this all boils down to is that "Center Stage: Turn It Up" is really just an update on very familiar themes and is dominated by a driving beat and a lot of dance. It won't blow you away but it is entertaining if you like simple dance movies.